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Matt's Hightower - What We Ride

The #whatweride series takes a look into the bikes, components and accessories that are used by Stif staff members, team riders and close affiliates.

We’re all keen riders and regardless of whether it’s racing, shredding laps for fun, heading out on big epic adventures, or pre-work power hours, we are constantly on the search for the optimum set up and performance from the best bikes, components and accessories.

Every product on our both our physical and digital shelves is meticulously handpicked for a reason. We only stock products we fully believe in and ultimately use ourselves on the trails. The #whatwerideseries is to show these products in application and explain why


Matt, Stif Mountain Bikes Web Team

Who's Matt?

Our Trusty workshop mechanic by day and king of speed by the weekend, Matt has been racing for Stif since 2020. His passion for racing and love of riding bikes is astounding - If we could bottle his enthusiasm for mountain biking and sell it here at Stif, it would probably be banned by the UCI as a performance enhancing stimulant!

The Bike

For his 2023 race season, Matt has changed it up this year and gone for a custom Santa Cruz Hightower CC. While the Hightower isn't usually considered an enduro race bike, with a few clever spec choices it is more than capable of handling whatever Matt can throw at it.

Matt says he made the switch to a Hightower from his previous Megatower race bike as it is a more efficient climber, without compromising much in it’s descending capabilities. The slightly shorter travel is better suited to most of the enduro courses Matt will be racing on throughout this season, and the bike is more fun and playful than a long travel bruiser! Matt is 5’ 10” and is right in the sweet spot for a size Large frame.

Matts Lyrik Fork

Up front, Matt has specced a 160mm Lyrik fork in Heavy Meadow green, which really pops against the stunning translucent purple frame of the Hightower. These are the latest offerings from Rockshox, featuring an orchestra of industry-leading tech like the new Charger 3 damper, ButterCup technology, and the new DebonAir+ air spring. The extra 10mm raises the stack height of the bike to 660mm while slackening the head angle by around half a degree to 64º in the low setting, further improving the descending capabilities of the bike. Matt chose this fork as in his opinion it is the best All Mountain fork on the market and being on the lighter side, the 35mm stanchions are plenty stiff for his riding. Matt runs 75 psi, with half a token to further fine tune the spring rate. Matt runs five clicks of high speed compression along with six clicks of low speed compression, both from fully closed and runs his rebound fully open.

Matts Hightower in Profile

For the rear shock, he has stuck with the stock Rockshox Super Deluxe Ultimate. Again this is one of the highest performing shocks on the market and Santa Cruz provides a custom tune that perfectly matches the suspension kinematics of the Hightower. The shock features the all new RC2T damper which allows for 100% independent high speed and low speed compression adjustments. Pressure wise, Matt has gone with 170 psi, with three clicks of high speed compression from closed, low speed compression fully open and nine clicks of rebound.

Matts Brake Setup - SRAM Code RSCs

For brakes, Matt has gone with the super powerful and consistent Code RSC’s with sintered pads, which he has paired with HS2 200mm rotors front and rear. The HS2 rotors are slightly thicker than the standard Sram rotor, which provides better heat dissipation and increased pad traction. Matt runs his brake levers really flat, and his front brake bites a lot closer to the bar than usual. Being a lighter rider Matt finds that his front brake can be too grabby so having this extra lever throw can negate this, he can also feather the brake to stand the bike up in a corner when required.

Matts XO1 Mech and Cassette

Shifting is taken care of by a full wireless Sram X01 AXS drivetrain. One of the highest tech drivetrains on the market, it provides crisp, consistent shifting which is key in an enduro race setting where the terrain can change so quickly. The absence of cables makes for a cleaner looking cockpit, and it even has an overload clutch design which allows the derailleur to sense impact and move it out of the way before damage can occur. For his cranks Matt has chosen a Sram carbon X01 crankset in 170mm length, which strikes a good balance between power output and ground clearance, while the Nukeproof Horizon CL clipless pedals keep his feet firmly in place.

Matts Hightower rolls on Reserve 30|HD Rims laced to i9 Hubs

The bike is rolling on Reserve’s 30|HD carbon rims front and rear, the highest quality carbon wheels on the market. They are incredibly strong and light with a damped, buzz muting ride - Matt takes this one step further by running a softer spoke tension on the front wheel, meaning even greater compliance when cornering and charging through the rough stuff! The rims are laced to super high-engagement i9 1/1 hubs, which sound as good as they look. Wrapping up the wheels are a pair of Maxxis DHR II tyres front and rear, both in DoubleDown casing with a MaxxGrip upfront for front wheel traction and a MaxxTerra at the rear for better rolling resistance. Matt isn't overly particular on tyre pressures, favouring the good old ‘enduro squeeze’, but they are currently around 23 psi in the front tyre and 28 psi in the rear.

Matt finishes his build with Burgtec Bars and Stem

Rounding out the build is an all Burgtec cockpit with a 35mm Enduro stem and alloy Ridewide enduro bars cut down to 750mm - shorter than most riders his height would run, however it seems to work for him! For his grips Matt has gone for the OG Bartender - his personal preference over the Pro version.

So there you have it - Matt’s race ready Hightower CC! We are super stoked to see where this bike will take him in the upcoming season, stay tuned as we will be following Matt throughout the rest of the year and keeping you updated on his race results.

The Hightower

The Santa Cruz Hightower

Interested in a Hightower or unsure if it is the best bike option for you? Give us a shout on the phone, drop an email to sales@stifmtb.com or to head to either of our stores for a brew and a chat! We have a full showroom plus a range of demo bikes for you to try out.

Like these bike checks? We’ve got a wide variety of bikes in the pipeline so make sure to tune back in for more additions of the #whatweride series!